It’s becoming abundantly clear that sevens are the new eights in the street-car scene, as Australia’s quickest streeters continually up the ante. Sean Anthony’s 1500rwhp XD Falcon is one of the newest members of the club, knocking out blistering timeslips at the ragged edge of Barra development.
First published in the January 2023 issue of Street Machine
The XD began as a spur-of-the-moment thing. “Me and my brother woke up one Sunday morning in 2017 and went, ‘Let’s build a race car,’” he says. “We couldn’t afford an XW or XY, so the next best thing was an XD Falcon. We went on Gumtree and found this car for sale in Canberra, about two ads down. The thing was insane; it had not one ding or bit of rust.”
While they’d found the perfect specimen, actually clinching it proved trickier. “The guy who owned it was 87 years old. He’d had it from brand new, but he’d gone deaf, so I had to speak to his son,” Sean explains. “The son went, ‘Dad told me if you’re another hot rod guy, you can’t buy it!’ I had to lie and say my dad owned a yellow XD when he was young, and that I was buying it for him! I felt a bit guilty. I was always going to send him a photo, but I thought I’d better not because he’d probably die!”
Egged on by good mate and seven-second Cortina racer Corey Benning, Sean first had Glenn Wells screw together a more modest Barra with a Precision 91mm snail. The combo was good for 1300rwhp and sent the XD to an 8.80, but Sean was hungry for more, so in 2021 he turned to Frank Marchese of Dandy Engines.
“It’s not that Glenn wasn’t up to the task,” Sean clarifies. “Dandy Engines just seemed like that one-stop shop. We went to Dandy Engines to do one thing, and that was to run a seven-second pass. “Frank’s words were: ‘You use my engine, my ECU, my tune, my guy’s gearbox and converter, and I will never stop giving you support.’”
Frank took on Corey’s Cortina and Josh Tuskin’s XW at the same time as his first in-car Barra projects. “The XD became a guinea pig,” Sean says. “He loves it because we’re not scared to blow it up!”
The XD’s mill is built around a Nitto 3.8-litre crank swinging Nitto rods and CP ceramic-coated pistons in a partially grout-filled block. The stock head features port work and oversized valves, with custom cams by Dyno-mite Performance.
On the intake side, there’s a Plazmaman twin-rail plenum, 90mm throttlebody and 12 2700cc injectors, which insert copious amounts of E85 supplied by a Waterman pump. In turn, it’s lit up with a set of R35 GTR coils, and managed by a FuelTech FT600 set up by Nathaniel Ardern. A Garrett G55 98mm unit does the heavy lifting on a stainless 6boost Pro Mod manifold, spooled up on the line by both CO2 and a shot of nitrous.
Exhaust duties are managed by a five-inch dump pipe by Ryan at Riot Lab, followed by a four-inch system to the rear. The standard internal Barra oil pump was replaced with an external Peterson R4 unit pulling from a modified 12-litre BA sump, and there’s a set of FG thermo fans to keep it happy on the street. Fed 48psi, it spat out 1550hp at the wheels.
Caringbah’s Protrans Performance Automatics built the Reid-cased Powerglide, which is hooked to an M&M bolt-together converter and four-inch aluminium Lite Series tailshaft from GJ Drivelines. The third member is a nine-incher with 35-spline Dutchman axles, a Truetrac centre and 3.7 gears, bolted to a set of Gazzard Brothers leaf springs.
“When Ryan from Riot Lab was at All Race [Fabrications], he ’caged it, and when he started his own business I supported him,” Sean explains. “His work is crazy; it’s got his little palm trees everywhere!” Impressively, the rear end is untubbed. “We just gave it a tiny bit of massaging with a hammer; with a shortened diff, they fit a 275 pretty easily.”
After finishing ninth outright at Drag Challenge Weekend 2022, Sean made a dash to Sydney Dragway in late October, where he smashed out a 7.91 in full street trim, splitting a couple of bores in the process. “It went 179mph, so we knew there was a bit more in it,” Sean says.
“We knew we’d hurt the engine and we got it ready again, but it broke the diff pinion in half basically on the startline. I was happy with the number, but I was also a bit upset – it was sort of like unfinished business.”
With a slightly wounded engine and smashed diff the week of the 2022 Ford-Powered Nationals, Sean planned to sit that event out until FOMO got the better of him. “I spoke to Frank on Wednesday and he said it was doable,” he says. “I rang Mark [Schwarze] and said, ‘I’m dropping a diff off tomorrow and I need it back tomorrow night.’ He lost his shit at me, but he made it happen, so we quickly threw the diff in it and went up on Friday.”
The thrash was rewarded with a string of seven-second passes at the Ford-Powered Nats, including a 7.76@182mph. “We were very, very impressed, but not too surprised,” Sean says. “We’d seen what it can do in Sydney; we just had to get it out of the hole.” He’s confident the number makes the XD the quickest turbo Barra-powered, street-driven X-series Falcon in the country. “There’s [Goran Ivanovic’s] white Cortina that’s run a 7.74, and there’s KNGFGX, but that’s about it.”
When it comes to going quicker, Sean reckons there’s not much more left in the stock-block Barra. “We’re not hurting the pistons, rods or crank. We’re not spinning bearings; we’re splitting bores,” he explains. “I might give another engine a crack and grout-fill it to the top, run no water whatsoever and run methanol, but I don’t think there’s any more left in E85.
Nitrous is the other option for going quicker; I could hit it with a couple of hundred [horsepower for] the whole track.” He’s also weighing up switching to a billet block, though it’s a pricey exercise at $16,000 for just a block and sump.
Sean attributes much of the XD’s success to Corey Benning. “I don’t know how to thank him enough – he would’ve done hundreds and hundreds of hours on my car. We’ve probably cracked 10,000 beers and eaten 50,000 slices of pizza!
He’s so intelligent and so good at what he does, and as Frank said, it nearly all comes back to him. He’s a freak!”
Though Sean’s broken everything on the XD at least once in his pursuit of sevens, his scariest moment came on the dyno in mid-2022. “We normally rev the car to about 8100rpm, but this time we lifted it up another thousand,” he recounts. “Because it’s destroked, there’s no issues doing that, but we had a bit of a pinion angle issue we hadn’t realised and the tailshaft let go at about 9200rpm.
It ripped the back of the gearbox off; the output shaft was banana’d; the tailshaft split in half and came through the floor; and the shifter exploded in Nads’s [Nathaniel Ardern’s] hand and split the glovebox in half.”
The underbody lines, exhaust system and transmission tunnel were also smashed to bits, but thankfully nobody was hurt. “It was bad,” Sean says, “but we upgraded the tailshaft, cut the diff out and redid that, redid all the piping, and upgraded from the 8891 turbo to the G55. It was a very expensive exercise!”
1979 FORD XD FALCON
|Brand:||3.8L Ford Barra|
|Induction:||Plazmaman manifold and water-to-air intercooler|
|Turbo:||Garrett G55 98mm|
|Fuel system:||Waterman 18gpm|
|Cooling:||Twin FG fans|
|Exhaust:||Custom 4in system|
|Ignition:||R35 GTR coils|
|Gearbox:||Protrans Reid-cased Powerglide|
|Converter:||M&M billet bolt-together|
|Diff:||35-spline 9in, 3.7:1 gears, Truetrac centre|
|SUSPENSION & BRAKES|
|Front:||Gazzard Brothers springs and shocks|
|Rear:||Gazzard Brothers springs and shocks|
|Brakes:||Wilwood discs (f), stock drums (r)|
|Master cylinder:||Wilwood boosterless|
|WHEELS & TYRES|
|Rims:||Weld AlumaStar 17in (f), Weld V-Series 15in (r)|
|Rubber:||Mickey Thompson (f), Mickey Thompson Radial Pro 275 (r)|
My family for putting up with me and the time that goes into the car; Corey Benning for years of building the car; my mates Josh Schwarze, Bretto and Chris; Frank, Michael and all the boys at Dandy Engines; Nathaniel at FuelTech; Ryan from Riot Lab; Chris at Racewires; Jai Jai Upholstery Artisans for the seats; Stix at QuickBitz for all his help and parts over the years; Fred at Protrans; Speed Pro